Today, African textiles are widely appreciated for their craftsmanship and vibrant colors. Afropolitan designers often blend silk, cotton, and lace with traditional African patterns and fabrics, such as the wildly popular Ankara, chitenges and kente, to create unique, culturally rich and definitively beautiful designs. While we are most familiar with this fabric I have listed a few other fabrics that you may find to start collecting.
Chitenge/Ankara has become most popular in mainstream culture as of late. It is a wax resist dyed fabric mostly made of 100% cotton or cotton poly material. Using a technique called wax resist dyeing. Wax resist dyeing is a process where melted wax is applied to cloth before being dipped in dye. Wherever the wax has seeped through the fabric, the dye will not penetrate. Sometimes several colors are used, with a series of dyeing, drying and waxing steps, various colors and patterns are created. The cotton fabric used for Ankara is cool and durable.
Chitenge it what wives and mothers wore at home to do chores and mothers called it wrappers; worn with a blouse. The true beauty of chitenges began to take preeminence in dressing up among the youths. Before now, we would prefer to wear foreign designs to events rather than Chitenge.
The rise of the fashion industry has seen to the identification of Chitenge/ankara/kitenge as a continental image of beauty, pride and creativity. Many designers fuse the african fabric with satin, chiffon, taffeta, lace, and even go as far as bejewelling it (like Jewel by Lisa..I love her work). I am hoping to feature Zambian works like Kutowa, Dodo, Faye designs. I will keep you posted. http://www.jewelbylisa.com/, http://www.ituenbasi.co.uk/,
Say good buy to plain old drappy chitenges lets say hello to the mega revamped vavavoom Chitenges of the twenty first century. Ready to take on the world.
Another fabric I am yet to get my hands on...or explore is Adinkra or Adire, which is a hand-printed fabric made in Ghana. Developed by the Ashanti people, Adinkra cloth is stamped and patterned with traditional Ashanti symbols. Each symbol has its own meaning. People in Ghana decorate the cloth by using a black dye made of bark. This dye is called Adinkera aduru, and it is what gives the cloth its name.
Then Aso Oke fabric is made by weaving cotton and silk into long strips then sewing these strips together edge to edge to make garments. Today rayon and shiny lurex are used alongside cotton and silk. Patterns handed down over generations are woven alongside remarkably innovative new designs.